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Location Tanzania, Kigoma,Shinyanga,Tabora
Central coordinates 31o 30.00' East  4o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 1,300,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 - 1,300m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description This site, situated in the interior of western Tanzania, is a vast wetland system of limited access, even in the dry season. During times of peak flood the flood-plains of the Malagarasi, Moyowosi, Nikonga, Kigosi and Gombe rivers cover nearly 1,000,000 ha and the permanent swamps along the margins of the rivers and lakes extend over 350,000 ha. The riverine vegetation is dominated by Borassus and Phoenix palms with stands of Acacia woodland along the margins of the flood-plain. The higher ground between the rivers is cloaked in BrachystegiaJulbernardia woodland with patches of groundwater forest in areas with a high water-table. The Moyowosi and Malagarasi rivers both rise in the highlands of Burundi, while the Nikonga, Kigosi and Gombe rivers drain the central plateau south and south-east of Lake Victoria. These rivers join to the east of Uvinza and drain into Lake Tanganyika, 40 km south of Kigoma. The central railway between Tabora and Kigoma crosses the southern edge of the wetland, separating it (except during wet years when the whole area is inundated) from the Ugalla river wetland system (TZ019).

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Little is known of the avifauna in this part of Tanzania. During January 1995, waterbirds in the lakes and swamps south of the confluence of the Moyowosi and Kigosi rivers were counted. The difficulties of working such a vast area without boats and aircraft meant that numbers of many species were probably seriously under recorded, but included Mesophoyx intermedia (263), Ardea goliath (42), Ardea purpurea (158), Ardeola ralloides (298), Ardeola rufiventris (48), Thalassornis leuconotus (63) and Sterna nilotica (76). Surveys of Balaeniceps rex have estimated 493 ±86 at Moyowosi (1990), 1,867 ±891 at Kigosi (1990) and 168 ±78 outside the reserves (1990). A 1992 estimate of 2,489 birds is considered rather high. Only 44 Gallinago media were recorded in 1995, but the real population of this globally threatened species is probably far higher. Three species of the Zambezian biome have been recorded (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, populations of Loxodonta africana (EN) have declined from an estimated 27,279 to 1,400; Lycaon pictus (EN) still occurs.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Saddlebill Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis winter  1992  539 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Egret Ardea alba winter  1995  802 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex winter  1990  1,473 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus winter  1992  506 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Great Snipe Gallinago media winter  1995  44 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  1995  2,400 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kigosi Game Reserve 70,000,000 protected area contained by site 700,000  
Malagarasi-Muyovozi Wetlands Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 325,000,000 protected area contains site 1,300,000  
Moyowosi Game Reserve 60,000,000 protected area contained by site 600,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   13%
Shrubland   34%
Grassland   1%
Forest   50%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -

References Baker (1997), Hill and Jones (1994), Hughes and Hughes (1992), Huish and Campbell (1991), Mutch (1973, 1977), Parker (1984).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Moyowosi - Kigosi Game Reserves. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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